THE Ulster Farmers’ Union has recently submitted its response to the Permitted Developments Rights for Agricultural Buildings Consultation and has welcomed the proposals put forward by Environment Minister Alex Attwood’s to ease planning rules for farmers.
UFU president Harry Sinclair said: “Minister Attwood’s proposal to extend the area limitation of agricultural buildings or extensions, which does not require planning permission, from 300m2 to 500m2 is something the UFU have been lobbying towards for some time. The change in rules could potentially mean that farmers can construct an agricultural farm building up to 500 square metres in size without the need for a costly planning application. Farmers will welcome this proposal as it will constitute a reduction in red tape and cost for many farm businesses. It will also help the agricultural industry expand without being unnecessarily restricted by planning rules and fees. However, we are against Minister Attwood’s proposal that within sensitive areas, including AONB’s that the current area limit of 300m2 should remain. We feel this proposal would be extremely unfair and would competitively disadvantage farms within sensitive areas.”
In relation to Permitted Developments Rights for Anaerobic Digestion (AD), the UFU have also concerns about any limiting of feedstocks to those generated on the agricultural unit on which the AD plant is located.
Mr Sinclair added: “We continue to advocate the development of small-scale AD technology to allow farms to be self-sufficient in terms of energy use, however smaller units requires more volumes of feedstocks than what can be generated on-farm. Therefore, we have proposed that a farm with an AD plant should be allowed to import feedstocks from neighbouring farms. “
The UFU feel these proposals are a good example of government working in response to industry needs and hope Minister Attwood makes a speedy decision.